December 8, 2015
By: Julia Rocchi
So you’ve decided you want to establish a local historic district and have considered where its boundaries should be. Now comes perhaps the hardest part: getting your community to buy into the idea.
Shaping local sentiment and opinions is a complex task, and planning a local historic district is no exception. While the preservation community understands and appreciates its benefits, it's not guaranteed everybody will feel as enthusiastic about it. What’s more, all the local stakeholders―homeowners, government officials, merchants, and property owners―will endorse, change, or reject proposals depending on how well they understand the issues involved.
So it’s up to the district advocates to make a clear and compelling case for the advantages of a local historic district. Not only will it increase community awareness, but it can also help avoid controversy later by building consensus now.
Here are 10 points to share with your community stakeholders that outline the benefits of establishing a local historic district in your area.
1. Local districts protect the investments of owners and residents of historic properties. Insensitive or poorly planned development can make an area less attractive to investors and homebuyers, and thus undermine property value. In contrast, historic district designation encourages people to buy and rehabilitate properties because they know their investment is protected over time.
2. Properties within local historic districts appreciate at rates greater than the local market overall as well as faster than similar, non-designated neighborhoods. Findings on this point are consistent across the country. Moreover, recent analysis shows that historic districts are also less vulnerable to market volatility from interest rate fluctuations and economic downturns.
3. Local districts encourage better quality design. In this case, better design equals a greater sense of cohesiveness, more innovative use of materials, and greater public appeal―all of which are shown to occur more often within designated districts than non-designated ones.